Monday, February 23, 2009

The Two-State Mirage

These days I'm finding myself amused at the vehemence with which otherwise liberal westerners hold to the idea that a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict is just around the corner. For several years, the refrain has been "everybody knows what it will look like, they just have to ...".

Now that Netanyahu is poised to take over Israeli politics, the conditions liberal Westerners have claimed would have to be met for a viable two-state solution to appear clearly will not be met. There will not be significant pullback from the settlements, and there will not be a contiguous West Bank, instead the West Bank will be a series of cantons, with not direct access to each other, much less to the outside world.

The Palestinians would not have, without duress, voted for a contiguous West Bank/Gaza state without a right to return that would threaten Israel demographically. The West has always intended for the vote to be under extreme duress - the Palestinians are to be told that the alternative is to starve. A vote under duress will not be accepted as legitimate and the feeling that there is still an injustice to be rectified will continue throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

Another issue on the side, is that most Palestinians believe the refugees are part of the Palestinian nation that should be included in the vote. Including them guarantees that any referendum will fail. Westerners have no intention of including them.

A two-state solution is just not practical. The Palestinians are not going to accept what Israel is willing to offer without an amount of compulsion from the West that will render any vote meaningless. It isn't really less practical under Netanyahu than it was under Olmert. It isn't and wasn't going to happen either way.

This is an issue Westerners are able to avoid by through the belief that negotiations are going to, at some point in the future, and by magic, create an arrangement the Palestinians will find acceptable but that does not threaten Israel. I've never seen such an arrangement spelled out in detail, even as a discussion of what would be plausible.

The purpose of the two-state solution, now, seems to me to be a mechanism for indefinitely maintaining the status quo, but reducing the guilt associated with the ongoing dispossession, starvation and violations of the Palestinians.

Advocacy of a two-state solution that will agreed to right around the corner is a relatively guilt free way to advocate the status quo. What we have now is the two state solution we'll have in the future. Egypt's people would not accept what the West would present - meaning a compelled referendum - so Egypt's 80 million people will have to remain under pro-American dictators indefinitely. Same for Jordan and the rest of the region. Palestine's people would have to live under their own pro-Western dictatorship, because free to vote, they'd elect parties opposed to this outcome. There would be resistance on the same fronts that exist now. There is no difference between what the Middle East would look like after the Western vision of a two state solution and what we see today.


Ziad said...

Arnold, if you had to predict, would you say that Israel and the U.S. will successfully install their vision of a two state solution?

Do you think a credible push for a one state solution will gain steam over the next decade or two?

In other words, do you see the balance of power regionally changing in way that does not favor Israel?

Arnold Evans said...

Effectively the current situation will persist until a one state solution is reached.

A two state solution that is reached by openly threatening to starve the Palestinians, and by excluding refugees outside of Palestine proper, and by limiting the resources of the opposition while flooding the pro-camp with money financial and military resources just will not be accepted as an expression of the will of the Palestinians.

At least by anyone who now doesn't accept Abbas' presidency, after his term was to have ended, but not Hamas, as the expression of the will of the Palestinians.

So if a two state referendum had occurred yesterday, and passed the way the West intends to pass it, nothing would be different today than what we actually see now - the dispute will still continue until a one state situation is reached.

Better sooner than later for that though. All of the death and misery that is produced in efforts to forestall a one state solution are wasted and unnecessary sacrifices to the unsustainable dream of there being a Jewish state in the Middle East.

Arnold Evans said...

About the balance of power, Israel is a drain on US resources, but the US found itself having plenty of resources to spend however it wanted when WWII ended, and has spent a lot this way.

Pharoahonic Egypt built big pyramids with their resources, Rome built coliseums, the United States, among other things, propped up a Jewish state in the Middle East against the wishes of everyone else in the Middle East.

The US is becoming relatively weaker and the balance of power is gradually shifting in that respect. Also Zionists had a bigger relative information and organization advantage in influencing US policy than their opponents, but that advantage is shrinking before our eyes.

So the US is progressively becoming less able and less willing to continue to impose Israel on the Middle East.

I can't predict when the breaking point will have obviously been reached.

Arnold Evans said...

About a credible push, calls for a one-state solution seem to have become a lot louder and more credible since the Gaza invasion. That's becoming my number one reason the Gaza invasion failed, more than the fact that Israel refused to try to hold any territory which was my previous number one reason it failed. It is true though that the structural reasons for these calls gaining prominence would have surfaced pretty soon anyway.

I'll predict that opposition to Israel will coalesce around calls for a one state solution generally by the end of Obama's 2nd term, and quite possibly by the end of his 1st term.

Meaning Obama may still advocate two-state, but he'll have to explain why he thinks it's better than one-state. Which he doesn't now because that idea is not fully in the Western intellectual marketplace yet.